Israel, Hamas diverge on Gaza death toll from hostage rescue operation

The Israeli military has said its operation to rescue four hostages was carried out after weeks of preparation, but Hamas says that the operation's gun battles and air raids took the lives of over 100 more central Gaza residents than Israel claims.

Israel says its intelligence agency found out where one female and three male hostages were being held in separate buildings by the Islamic group. The rescue operation started at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

The New York Times reported that Israeli forces chose to move in the daylight in an attempt to catch Hamas off guard since the armed group might expect such an operation to take place at night.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the rescue of the female hostage went smoothly, but the raid on the building where the male hostages were held ran into difficulties, triggering an exchange of fire.

Israel's Air Force bombed the area to extricate the hostages.

Israeli forces say fewer than 100 Palestinians were killed in the operation, but Hamas says 210 residents lost their lives. Its sharp criticism of the Israeli operation could have an adverse impact on negotiations for a ceasefire and the release of additional hostages.

Health authorities in the Gaza Strip have said the death toll in the enclave since the conflict began last October stood at 36,654 before Saturday's rescue operation.